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Keep education report, but lose college idea

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The report of the riba's latest enquiry into education seems to have ended up as a worthy enough exercise. (aj 4.11.99)

However, one cardinal proposal can be singled out as a non-runner: namely, the college, envisaged as undertaking responsibility for a wide range of matters connected with education and qualification (of a kind that no self-respecting professional body could neglect). The arb has for some time made great play of its inability under statute to delegate authority for validation, even spending significant registration-fee income on legal advice to bolster that position, so it can scarcely now readily transfer its validation role to the college.

But do college supporters need to despair of this possibility so quickly? Where in the Actis there any reference to such a validation role (or to courses, examinations or schools of architecture)?

What the Act states, in fact, is that the arb should prescribe qualifications - and that is all. A qualification is a barch from Poppleton University. And if the barch comes at the end of a course validated by the national professional body, the riba, and given five-year award status by the Government, what problem could the arb have in prescribing it for registration purposes? In terms of legislation and practicality, the arb in fact has no role in validation.

So perhaps the registration body's role presents no impediment to the college idea - but then maybe there is no need to have it in the college at all, and without the need to accommodate the arb, why have a college?

Peter Gibbs-Kennet, Norwich Cottage, Bisley, Gloucestershire

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